I often get complaints from my clients that vegetables and salad are boring.... Not true!
Here is an easy idea to jazz up your greens!
mint leaves, torn
S & P, to season
how: toss through cooked vegetables
Goes With: peas, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini
With the weight statistics (still) on the rise, research is showing that generations to come will suffer the most regarding their health. Some part of this is due to the fact that many of us Generation Y and Z'ers aren't sure how to navigate the kitchen past the heat 'n' go meals from the freezer. Sure enough we work harder and longer hours, need to look after active children, walk the dog, go to the gym, hang out the washing but is it good enough to put food, our fuel to survive, at the bottom of the list and opt for something out of a packet?
The other issue too is that many people feel they don't have the confidence or knowledge to cook a meal from scratch and unfortunately, I think that's due to the loss of trans-generational learnings (parents teaching and encouraging their children to learn in the kitchen) and non-compulsory home economics subjects at school, not to mention the mammoth of TV shows and gourmet reviews that make us feel we need to be Australia's next top chef!
Don't despair, you can sharpen your knife in the kitchen with these 5 tips.
1. Just have a go
The only way to learn is to just jump in the deep end and try. Most likely it won't be perfect, but at least you get the idea of what works and doesn't work.
2. Think tasty, not gourmet
Save the fine dining for the restaurants, and aim to put a tasty meal together using different spices and herbs. It's a amazing how a meal can transform just by adding 1-2 seasonings. Every shop, aim to buy one new spice or herb off the rack and slowly you'll build your own spice market.
3. Gather some inspiration
Cook books are not just for coffee tables! Invest in some cook books that you feel comfortable in reading and that don't contain ingredients required from the other side of the globe. I love the Australian's Women's Weekly books, Stephanie Alexander's kitchen garden companion, Healthy Food Guide (www.healthyfoodguide.com.au) magazine and Donna Hay's 'simple essential' collection.
4. Aim for 1 new recipe a week
Pick a night or day when you have some time and set aside a recipe you wish to try. Make sure you read it thoroughly, gather all your ingredients and gage how much time you'll need- then add an extra half hour (I never can chop as quick as I think I can).
5. Keep your favourites safe
Start a recipe folder (or clearly tag the recipe) so you can pull out a favourite or 'fail proof' at anytime. The worst is knowing you have a great dish up your sleeve but you can't find the master plan...
Be bold and be adventurous... It beats eating frozen lasagna that tastes like rubber.
Carla is a contributing lifestyle editor for She is, Sarah Jane | Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blogger
As posted on www.sheissarahjane.com.au
Most Australian’s aren’t too familiar with legumes, except for the fact they make you ‘windy’. However, legumes provide such an array of nutrients I almost class them in the super food category. Here’s a little introduction to what I call the ‘vegetarian’s meat’ (which all non-vegetarians can benefit from anyway!)
Legumes are the seed or pods from the leguminous plants and include commonly known types such as borlotti, red kidney, cannellini, soya, black, Haricot (navy) and mung beans, chickpeas, split peas, peanuts and lentils. They come in both dried and canned forms and are used across the world in many countries; think Indian dhal, Mexican beans, Miso soup, tofu, baked beans.
Legumes are rich in protein due to their ability to make amino acids through converting atmospheric nitrogen into its root nodules. They are also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, and thiamine that all assist with energy conversion and body rebuilding processes in the body. This group of foods are also notoriously known for their ridiculous amounts of fibre. Half a cup of cooked legumes provides an amazing 6g of fibre towards your daily total of 30g!! (an apple provides about 3g).
The best part about legumes is that they are cheap and readily available and are so easy to add into dishes. Here are a few of my suggestions on boosting protein and fibre, while saving a bit in the hip pocket.
Bolognese Sauce: Substitute 250g mince for 400g of canned red kidney beans (rinsed and drained). By the time the meat and beans break down, no one really can tell the difference (especially the kids!). You’ve also just saved yourself a few pennies whilst lowering the fat content of your sauce.
Pumpkin Soup: Add a can of chickpeas towards the last 5 minutes of cooking your pumpkin soup and blitz until smooth. It adds a lovely nutty flavour and tends to thicken your soup to a rich and creamy texture.
Stews/Casseroles: Throw in lentils as once they break down, they help to thicken up your dish. Brown lentils tend to stay in tact whilst red and yellow breakdown more easily.
Salads: There are some lovely and simple bean or chickpea recipes that are great for barbeques. Try an Italian mixed bean salad, roast pumpkin, spinach and chickpea salad or a black bean and Quinoa salad.
Breakfast: Don’t forget good ol' baked beans on toast for a great start to the day. If you’re not a fan of the canned variety, make your own using some garlic, canned tomatoes and herbs (oregano, basil).
WARNING: To avoid the excess bloating and flatulence, pre-soak all dried legumes overnight. Always rinse and drain before using in cooking. If you’re new to legumes, start by introducing small amounts and increase over time. Too much at once will only end in… you get the picture.
More info? http://www.glnc.org.au/legumes/
[Imagery sources: Carla Johnson - Dietitian Pinterest pinboard]
Have you ever stopped to take note of how many grams of sugar is in your 600ml regular soft drink? Have you ever counted up the number of teaspoons of sugar in your hot beverages across the day? Is that latte a regular or a skim?
It’s not so surprising that much of our daily energy intake (kilojoules) is consumed through liquid sources as it goes down easily and we never feel full. For example, a 375ml can of soft drink has around 10-13 teaspoons of sugar and a tall regular latte is the equivalent to eating 3 small bananas. But these are drinks we would have as well as food items so it’s a double whammy in kilojoules!
The best way to hydrate is with the good ol’ stuff that fish do things in… Water.
Check out www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au
Everyone loves a little sunshine in their lives- it puts smiles on faces, children spend more time outdoors and it reminds me of eating ice cream. But have you ever stopped to think about how essential the sun is to our well being?
Vitamin D, although technically not a vitamin, is a pro-hormone that helps to absorb and balance our levels of calcium in our body. However vitamin D, or more so the lack of, has been a hot topic in both the medical and nutrition world.
Where do we get vitamin D?
The best source of vitamin D is through the sun. We also consume dietary sources through oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), eggs, and fortified foods like dairy spreads, orange juice and cereals however dietary vitamin D is not enough to meet our needs.
What is vitamin D deficiency?
It seems everyone is vitamin D deficient these days largely due to the amount of time most Australians spend indoors as well as a greater awareness in testing of levels that is identifying more people at risk. However apart from poor bone health, I began thinking about whether there were any other impacts of vitamin D deficiency; many of my clients wishing to lose weight seem to have the 'lack lustre' status and I wondered whether there was a link.
I had to consult my very first (and dusty) nutrition textbook to understand the basic role of vitamin D in the body. It's a complex system of conversions but put simply, the UVB rays from the sun activates vitamin D3 in the skin and/or, we eat sources of vitamin D in foods and supplements. The liver converts both D3 and D2 to another form of vitamin D (1-25OH) which is further processed again in the kidneys, which influences our cells to absorb more calcium and phosphate in the intestines and bones.
It turns out there is lots of research about the strong link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and depression. Another interesting thing to note from studies is that if vitamin D levels increase in the body, insulin resistance decreases, allowing our body's fuel system to work efficiently and effectively. Insulin resistance is the main glitch that occurs in conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome where excess insulin is released to compensate for poor glucose use in the muscle. The bummer about high insulin levels is that it promotes fat storage. So if vitamin D levels are returned to normal, I wonder if this just may help those battling to move some inches?
Although it's not as simple as this, it may be one small thing that just ensures we have ourselves covered for healthy bones and healthy metabolism. Spending a little extra time in low risk sunshine (before 10am and after 2pm) or taking a supplement (through the advice of your doctor or dietitian) may just help with more vitamin D in the body which may help with reducing the risk of developing other conditions.
I prefer the idea of getting outside and enjoying your morning coffee on the back porch or rolling up your sleeves when hanging out the washing (there's nothing healthy about a tan!). But there is nothing better than that strong kick of endorphins and euphoria when those warm rays bathe down on your face on a sunny day...
** With all medical and health issues, it's imperative to consult your doctor or dietitian for tailored advice regarding your personal situation before commencing any changes. This article is written to inform and like anything, a balanced diet and regular activity is important to maintain health and well being.
Nutrition (noun) | The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth:
Has anyone noticed how this little ‘noun’ has dominated many conversations within circles of friends, websites, magazines and even four channels of info-commercials on television over the past few months? The other day the lunchroom chat at my work ended up with a colleague informing us of how their husband’s friend-of-a-friend had lost ‘x’ amount of weight on the latest bizarre diet involving kiwi fruits. I was even sitting in a café last week, waiting for a friend when I overheard a table of ladies discussing the foods they were avoiding that week… No wonder everyone’s confused about nutrition and what they should eat!
I stumbled into studying nutrition and dietetics at university purely because I didn’t have the marks to make it into physiotherapy. I remember thinking at 18, “what else do I enjoy doing in life?” and the next best thing (apart from sport) was cooking, alongside eating. However I knew I’d never survive working in a kitchen so I married my love of food with health and arrived at nutrition. Now, with fours years of tertiary education and nearly six years of work experience under my belt, I find it really fascinating to see how our world has become food obsessed – think from gourmet celebrity chefs on bikes, weird and wonderful weight loss tips and the obesity crisis.
So where does my food philosophy stand?
I believe food is the central spoke in the wheel of life; it is essential for our survival but also holds strong ties to the social, emotional and physical aspects of human wellbeing. Food should be something that just occurs in our lives without much thought, but at the same time is held in high respect for its nurturing and pleasurable properties. Balance really is the key to living well and I believe it is true that “too much of anything is not good.” But balance is never a steady thing. There will be times when we tip too far one way; eat the whole 2L tub of ice cream or drink too much so really, it is the act of re-balancing is what I think healthy eating is all about.
The way to Carla's heart is all things food. Follow her thoughts and opinions on the latest food news and myths.